The people of the Andaman Islands depend on agriculture, despite challenges posed by hilly terrain and low-lying coastal areas increasingly battered by rising seas. Located roughly 1,400 kilometers from mainland India in the Bay of Bengal, this archipelago is home to farmers determined to keep their crops growing, and one of their favorites is supari, or areca nut, a fruit that is often chewed along with betel leaf or mixed into a powder and used in ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines.
Because of the scarcity of labor and limited technology to process these nuts, women play an important role in contributing to their production. Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, neighbor and friend, women usually sit around in groups to dehusk the dried nut and earn a small income that allows them to contribute to their family's income and add to their savings.
This is their story.
Sharada Balasubramanian was in the Andaman Islands to cover this story with the support of the Earth Journalism Network’s Bay of Bengal Story Grants.